Work Hard & Be Nice to People

All of the GPP18 folks were reunited at the Switzerland Embassy in Washington, D.C., along with guests and GPP alumni. This event took place about two weeks after the majority of our group had returned back to the states. Some GPP18-ers even traveled directly from Europe after continuing personal travel once our group meeting had subsided. I couldn’t fathom that!

My plus one and I, another PhD student in Food Science, chose to ride with a group in the university van. On the way to D.C., we stopped for lunch at a very cozy coffee shop at James Madison University, where a GPP alum is currently employed as faculty. This individual actually used to be my teaching assistant, although it was a few years ago. It was great to get to chat with him about his experiences as faculty at JMU, and to visit the campus, which I find to be quaint. The coffee shop egg and cheese biscuits weren’t so bad either!

At the Embassy, we presented in our groups that each represented a topic associated with evolving higher education. I was a member of the open access/open movement group. Originally the group name was “open access,” but we soon realized the open movement encompassed so much more than just open access journal publications. It seems like forever ago when we brainstormed presentation topics on the white board walls located in the Steger Center in Rita San Vitale, Switzerland and even more distant when we first chose when group topic we would like to further study.

From our conversations at the Steger Center, I learned that Virginia Tech has an open access fund that helps to cover fees associated with open access publishing. Virginia Tech also participates in International Open Access Week, which I did not realize was an internationally recognized initiative. I’m impressed by the Swiss National Science Foundation’s aim to publish in all open access journals/have open access articles by 2020 as well as Germany’s boycott of Elsevier’s journals.

During our group presentation, audience members did pose difficult questions that I’ve continued to dwell on.

*With all of the resources available (such as MOOCs, robots, etc.), why would a student need to attend college in person anyway?

*How do we get the word out to faculty about archiving and other resources available in relation to open access/science?

Post group presentations, we all enjoyed a wonderful cocktail hour and dinner together, where we were able to catch up with one another, as well as meet other individuals attending the event. Despite how quick of a meeting this was,   it was nice to have a reunion with everyone (although we missed a few folks) – definitely a feeling of nostalgia. 

BBFLs – GPP Return

Nobody ever told me that making friends as an adult wasn’t as easy as when we were younger. But if you think about it, it makes sense.

“Hey mom, can I go spend the night at Serena’s house?”

We no longer have slumber parties with our friends (well I guess you could if you really wanted to), accompanied with snacks, late night chats, and allowing someone to see you in your most vulnerable of states (i.e. brushing your teeth, your early morning grumpies, etc.).

In my opinion, traveling with folks is the best way to achieve an accelerated friendship. You spend ample amounts of time together. Traveling can stir up different emotions and the people you are with are typically, at the time, the only individuals you have to talk to about them. There is also a lot of what I would call down time – as in car rides, train rides, plane rides, and walking. Usually conversation fills up the empty space. If anything, traveling with a group is like one large slumber party in a way, with everyone getting to see you at both your best and worst.

[This is Cortney as my roommate when we didn’t really know one another. She stole all of the covers. ALL of the covers.]

When Missie and Erika picked me up at my house to drive to the Dulles airport, I didn’t even introduce them to my boyfriend as he said his goodbyes since to be honest, I didn’t feel like I knew them. Upon returning, as cliché as it sounds, I really do feel like I have a new group of people that I have a special bond with.

PhD life can be isolating. The majority of people our age are not at the library. It can be difficult to relate to others outside of the academic bubble. When I applied to the GPP Program, I wrote about wanting to participate in the trip because although I had recently completed the Future Professoriate Graduate Certificate, I wanted to continue to find opportunities to stay connected with students, outside of my own discipline, that had interest in higher education as an institution and theory + practice of teaching. I think it is important that universities continue to facilitate cross-disciplinary interactions among PhD students. We don’t get out much! A since of community, especially with people that understand what we are going through at PhD students, can sometimes mean everything.

Upon returning, I’m definitely missing the views, espresso breaks, and most of all the GPP folks.